Thursday. One of the most hectic afternoon/nights of my life. I expected it no less. I spent the entire day at work looking for train connections in LA. After that, I went with Helen to the travel agent to pay off my flights and insurance. Following that little adventure, I then had to go down to my brother's work where he was having drinks with his workmates because 2 of them were leaving, and we were having dinner with them also. So within 2 hours we had to get down to Darling Harbour for dinner, order & eat dinner, get across to the other side of Sydney by bus (a half hour trip) and make the James Blunt concert at the Hordern Pavillion by 8pm. Of course that didn't happen. We got to the restaurant just after 6pm. I instantly ordered the quickest thing on the menu. My brother and 90% of the table dallied about it. It then ended up being that we didn't get to order properly until around 6:45pm. I had to replace my order. We didn't actually get our food until 7:20pm. There was no way we were going to be able to eat, rush off and get a bus from 5 streets away in 10 minutes. So we decided that we'd get a cab. Now because my brother had been drinking so much he was a little nutty and I kept having visions of Dean slapping Sam over the back of the head on Supernatural and wanting to re-enact that (me being the older sibling). I also kept telling everyone I expected to be carrying him to the concert the way he was going.
Anyway, we ended up handing a whole bunch of notes to Paul and racing out of there just after 7:30pm. We then took the walk up to where we were supposed to catch the bus from and tried to flag down a taxi on the way. It was only when we were a block away from the buses were we able to get one to pull over, and it was only because he happened to be dropping people off on that corner. We jumped in, requested Fox Studios, and $10 later we were where we needed to be (me telling him to pull over because I didn't want him driving all the way around the block and inside when we knew where to walk it from). They thankfully didn't bag check me cause I really didn't want to stop, we were about 10 minutes late. We got inside and there was a band playing support who sounded a little like Azure Ray but not as good. My slightly intoxicated brother got more sleepy and said the band was going to knock him out with their boring music. Admittedly at one point it sounded like they were playing a song without having even rehearsed it. So we spent the entire support act talking over the band (something I usually never do) and texting our friends whilst sitting near the engineers section. We ended up moving up when they finished so we could watch James.
We had to wait until just after 9:15pm for him to make an appearance. He raced on stage playing a number I did not know, which I thought was rather brave of him. I have to applaud the lighting guys because they did a fantastic job. They only had what appeared to be something like a christmas light decoration background, but it was lit up so amazingly, and the amber coloured lights were just beautiful reflecting back onto the crowd during "High". It felt like we were all under some brilliant beautiful sunset. And the crowd during that song - James let us sing and it was so angelic, like some choral choir from the heavens. I have never heard a crowd sing so beautifully and in key since that very first Savage Garden show I went to. Now the biggest shock of the night to me was the fact that everybody in the crowd seemed to know and love "Billy" and sing and dance along to it. It's one of my least favourite tracks on the album, but I was completely surprised to see how popular it was - as if he HAD released it as a single. I thought it was going to be that way all night, but as soon as James started "Cry" it actually was a lot more silent and I have to admit I was baffled to find that what I liked was so completly left of centre of what everyone else was into.
James kept up a stagnant small peaking progression with the tracks throughout the set, changing up between well known and not-so-known, faster/boppier ones and the slower numbers, piano and guitar tracks. Although I probably would have had my qualms looking at the setlist, it actually worked more in his favour to keep the crowd alive for the entire set so they wouldn't go from one extreme to the other, they just hovered in-between. His first seating at the keyboard (our piano for this tour) he told us that we'd have to be quiet because he was going to play a quiet song. I instantly thought of "Goodbye My Lover" and how Zarina told me that in Canada the crowd had been completely silent. Well apparently Aussies don't know how to shutup. It was indeed that song, and the Aussies indeed wanted to sing along. Thankfully he was hearable over us. Of all things I expected to cry to this song - when he was here for the promo tour he just went on Sunrise and did that number and "You're Beautiful" and they sounded so heavenly that I thought it would resonate as well here but apparently all those extra ppl strip away that raw emotion. He did say, however, when he was here last time he played to only a few hundred ppl and it was nice to see a few more show up. I just had to make the point then that he didn't tell ANYONE he was coming, and he didn't actually do any concerts or anything then so of course nobody was around last November ;) I found myself getting teary, but I didn't cry. I was amazed considering I cry 80% of the time I listen to the track. So it is definately true now that Rob Thomas is the only artist who can make me cry at their concert from the sheer beauty of the music and the raw emotion in their voice.
Preceeding "Tears and Rain" he told us he was going to sing a song that only the girls could sing along to with him because it was so high. He said it was not something to be proud of that he could sing it cause it just meant he was a little girl. He did however invite the boys to feel up the girls next to them in the meantime because it didn't matter if they were friends, it was completely dark and no-one would notice. Other James wisecracks involved his revelation to us that the drummer insisted Sydney was the best looking crowd they'd ever played to. He also invited us to cheer on the keyboard player and he would do a silly dance for us, but warned us not to copy unless we were completely stupid and wanted to hurt ourselves. For one of the new tracks he revealed that he had been having trouble of late remembering the words to it, and that he would get us to sing along but because it was new we didn't know the words so we were "fuck-all help". I am pleased to say, though, that he did not manage to stuff up noticably at all that night. There may have been a line or two in various songs, but at those times I wasn't sure if it was him or me.
He also said "I know you've all come here tonight to have a good time... so I'm going to play you a miserable song" to which he launched into "No Bravery" whilst playing a video on the screen in the background which, I believe and hope I get this correct from what other ppl have been saying, was taken during his time in Kosovo. They also had the dancing monkey logo shimmying its way up the screen for "Out of my Mind" which I kept trying to position the image on his shoulder for when he was singing "monkey on my shoulder". Then once we reached the 2 song encore with "You're Beautiful" we had this flowing imagery on the back of these girls swimming around underwater in colourful flowy dresses. I kept thinking they were mermaids and the thought "oh that's what happened after he jumped off the cliff into the water" kept sticking in my head.
One of the new songs I really loved but *shrug* I can't actually name them anymore or anything. It was a good concert, I survived the entirity without too many probs (well apart from my jacket smelling like alcohol from the amount of times things were spilt on it), and I will say he is good live but he didn't blow me away quite as well as I wanted him to. He was great, the crowd was wonderful, and the lighting awesome, but it's not something I would be wanting to see a billion times.